From the Journal-Standard in Freeport, IL: Stephanie has been awarded the title of Alaska Expert and Great Land Expert Certificate by Holland America Lines. Holland America Lines holds a dominate position as the leader of Cruise Tours in Alaska and the Yukon. The program not only included course work but also 19 days of experiencing Alaska, the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. The curriculum incorporated 16 days of travel across Alaska and the Yukon on the McKinley Explorer trains, the Alaska and Taylor Highways by motor coach, cruising the Yukon River, the White-Pass Yukon Railway and sailing the Inside Passage aboard Holland America’s ms Volendam. Highlights included viewing Mt. McKinley, the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali National Park, rafting on the Nenana River, wildlife viewing, panning for gold, and the Alaskan Pipeline. Whale watching in the Glacier Bay National Park, cruising the Misty Fjords National Park, a First Nation member guided tour of Tombstone Territorial Park and flight over the glaciers in the Kluane National Park were also included in the itinerary. Three additional days were spent studying Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia in conjunction with the Canadian Tourism Office. With 15 years in travel consulting, these personal experiences and the honor of Holland America Alaska Expert, Travel Designed by Stephanie is prepared to help you with your travel arrangements to Alaska, the Yukon and British Columbia.
Excerpt from USA Today: Skating in the sky at Chicago’s John Hancock by Laura Bly
In a smackdown between rival Chicago skyscrapers, “Big John” earns extra points for its views (particularly during the fireworks displays from nearby Navy Pier) and audio tour narrated by Chicagoan David Schwimmer, says Illinois travel agent and frequent visitor Stephanie Diehl ….
Excerpts from : Travel Agents: A Healthy Long-Distance Relationship SMW Women’s Vacation & Travel Resources By Melanie Nayer, posted July 24, 2009
Relationships are complicated. ….. Throw in a travel agent and now you’re dealing with a long-distance relationship. How will you manage? …… complications are easily solved with two words: travel agent. “The best reason to use a travel agent is for the service, and to handle the objective details, which aren’t included when you book online….. … Travel agents aren’t magicians. They can’t magically make the plane fly or transport you in a bubble to your next destination so that you make your spa appointment. Travel agents can, however, ensure that you have plenty of time in between flights so that you aren’t running through airports. …. Quite frankly, we all lead busy lives and now and again, we need some help pulling it all together.
…..Every travel agent is different, so it’s important to find an agent you can relate to. Before picking up the phone, consider what you want out of your vacation. “You need a travel agent who understands you, your quirks, your desires, and who can deliver what you need,” said Stephanie Diehl, president and personal travel consult of Travel Designed by Stephanie in Freeport, IL. …. But what I didn’t know was where to stay and what to expect for my money.
….But before your agent can secure you the trip of your dreams, you need to set your own parameters. What type of vacation are you looking for (family-focused, girlfriend getaways, eco-friendly, adventure travel, etc.)? What can you really afford? How flexible are you with your travel dates? Are you ready to book your trip? “Consumers need to understand that budget and money are things that no one likes to talk about, but we really need to know. We want to know what level of comfort you have and what type of trip you’re expecting,” explained Diehl.
…”A good travel agent will be there for you,” said Diehl, who said many travel agents give out their home phone numbers and mobile numbers for round-the-clock access. “It’s OK to give my number to your family. If there is an emergency, I will find you.” Most importantly, have a little respect. Travel agents aren’t used cars – you won’t get the best deal if you shop around and play ‘beat this price.’ Pitting agents against one another won’t get you a better deal or a cheaper hotel room. Choosing a travel agent is like choosing a doctor – you want to find the one that fits your needs. “You want an agent looking out for your best interest,”… “Your repeat business is what’s most important. We want you to come back, so we’re going to work with you to make sure you get what you want.”
What’s the best way to choose a travel agent? Quite simply, it’s a matter of trust. Like a good friend, a good travel agent will be there for you.
You Made it this far…now Start Collecting Votes!
First off – a huge congratulations from everyone here at Gap Adventures!
From the thousands of entries, yours was one of only 20 that stood out above the rest at createyourownadventure.com and was judged by trail blazers and icons of the Adventure Travel Industry as worthy of top nomination.
So what do you do now?
You’ve probably been spreading the word about the Create Your Own Adventure contest already, but now is the time to get all your friends, family, co-workers and contacts on your side. It isn’t every day that you have a 1 in 20 chance of winning a free trip for three and travel prize package worth more than $14,000USD!
How will the Winner be Chosen?
Being social helps, so spread the word to your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter! Having the top votes among all finalists will surely help your overall ranking – however – keep in mind that votes only account for half of the overall ranking criteria.
Once user voting ends, the Top 20 Finalists will all be reviewed by our prestigious judging panel. Remember they each poured through piles of entries to choose their top 20 entries, and they all had individual favourites that didn’t make the cut. So this final critique for creativity, originality, sustainability and life-changing experiences will account for half of your rating as well.
Go to createyourownadventure.com/about/ to see the breakdown of judging criteria for how all final entries will be reviewed when user voting ends April 25th!
Good luck to all!
Voters are allowed one vote per day (24 hour period). Spread the word and encurage everyone to return each day and vote for your entry at createyourownadventure.com/finalists/ – the last day of voting is April 25th! For full details of the voting process and criteria see our contest terms and conditions.
Excerpts from : Romancing the Market
by Kerry Medina for Vacation Agent, August 2009
Industry experts offer tips on how to arrange the ideal romantic getaway ….Honeymoons are truly an evergreen business, especially given that they can result in a lifetime of repeat bookings as well as referrals. Stephanie Diehl, owner of Freeport, Ill.-based Travel Designed by Stephanie, says, “If you’re booking honeymoons and destination weddings, you’re constantly increasing your client base. After the honeymoon, couples will keep coming back to book subsequent trips, including family vacations.” Diehl also adds that “brides are great for referrals.” ..But securing honeymoon business is also a matter of advance planning, which means preparing before the trip as well as before the engagement. Single clients planning romantic getaways can be honeymooners in the making, so it’s also important to be just as detail-oriented about these bookings.
Following are some tips on arranging the perfect resort-based honeymoon or romantic escape. …Interview the couple before doing anything else. If they have a preconceived notion of what their ideal trip will be like, you’ll want to know that before you start researching or planning anything. Then your goal should be to meet and exceed their expectations. Find out where they’ve traveled in the past and what they enjoyed about their trips, as well as what they didn’t like about them. Take note when they tell you they like couples massages or horseback riding on the beach. “Honeymoons are a life event, so I ask what I can do to make their dreams for it come true,” says Diehl. “I want to make sure that what I plan is in line with the picture they already have in mind.” …Discuss room category choices after selecting a resort. Depending on the clients’ budget, the level of accommodations booked can be more important to couples than to most other travelers. ….. Julie Fuhrman, director of group sales and catering at Key West’s (Fla.) Ocean Key Resort & Spa (800-328-9815, www.oceankey.com) seconds that most honeymooners want a Jacuzzi and ocean view, but she adds that room choices depend not only on the couple’s budget but also their age. “Travelers in their mid-30s to early 40s will spend more time on the balcony enjoying the sunset, whereas younger couples don’t care as much,” she says
. …Suggest private accommodations if they’re available. Couples traveling on a honeymoon or romantic interlude typically value their privacy while away, so if a resort has separate cottages or villas, be sure to offer them to clients.
…Recommend all-inclusive resorts. Whether couples have a limited budget and want to keep track of their spending or they simply want a worry-free vacation that doesn’t require planning where their next meal will be, all-inclusives are a great option. “All-inclusive resorts are a big sell, even at the higher end of the market,” says Sherman. “Guests don’t sign for anything, and they can eat and drink all day. It works because it’s so easy, and guests don’t have to worry about using cash.” Better yet, many of these resorts include special amenities at no extra cost for honeymooning guests. For example, honeymooning couples spending four nights or longer at Curtain Bluff can enjoy a sunset sail on a 49-foot sailboat, a bottle of champagne and a private dinner, among other things.
…Advise couples with different interests to split their trip between a beach resort and city hotel. Client couples might have separate ideas of what constitutes a romantic vacation, so breaking up the getaway between a beach resort and a city hotel in the same destination might be a solution that will make them both happy
. …Alert clients of special dinner options that might be available at the property. More and more resorts are offering private dinner options. These could be on the beach or in an onsite, reservations-only restaurant available to guests staying in a particular room category.
Call the property in advance to let it know of your client’s arrival. …. “Introduce yourself and let him know that you have clients coming,” … When speaking with the general manager, also consider asking if he’ll be able to greet your guests upon their arrival and if it would be possible to have a note from you left in their room, wishing them a wonderful stay. The general manager might offer to include a fruit platter or bottle of sparking wine with the message. …Find out what special, off-property excursions can be arranged during the couple’s stay.
When talking up a particular resort, it’s always good to know what sites and activities are in proximity to the property. But once clients have decided to book the property, find out before they leave if there are any off-site activities that can be arranged exclusively for them. … “There’s a lot of pressure to look back on your honeymoon and see it as the best-of-the-best,” says Tobin. “Couples, especially the bride, want to feel special and pampered during that time.
On behalf of Yucatan Holidays we want to thank you for joining the Travel Writers’ Quest. You are already a winner, since you were one of the 20 finalists of the contest. Receive this symbolic diploma for participating on our Facebook project and again, thank you for making this happen.
Jorge C. Tejada